The other day, we were visiting my mother. The fair was on, so Mom, Charlie, Lily, and I decided to go. We had a great time, although my feet were barking after 6-7 hours on my feet.

We arrived around 1:30 pm. Our late morning/slash breakfast was catching up to us. Everyone was hungry, and Lily and I were slightly grumpy.

We came for the rides and the exhibits. The rides were closed, but we were hungry. We wandered further into the fairgrounds and came upon a stage. I thought, “Oh, good, live entertainment,” until the person opened their mouth. It was karaoke. Bad karaoke. Someone stuff that person’s mouth so they can’t sing bad. No one did. As a matter of fact, when they finished, the crowd cheered.

After five to ten minutes of this (we were looking for food in the vicinity and the PA system extended its reach), I told everyone we needed to get further away from the strangled cats, er, people singing. (Mind you, these were teens/adults.)

We went to the beer garden, found some shish kebab, and sat down to eat. It was quiet at first. The stage there was empty. I like live music, but the quiet was preferable to the karaoke. Then they started testing the PA system for sound levels for that night’s concert, which happened to be Korn, in the amphitheater adjacent to the beer garden. (Aaaahhh!) But the kicker was this little girl who got up on stage and started to caterwaul.

It was horrid. Combine Korn with an off-key child singing, and you’ve got Hell for me. The little girl was cute, she thought she was good, the crowd clapped for her, her parents beamed with pride, and my mother and I just wanted her to stop.

I know, that sounds mean, but cute does not equal talent. That child sang under pitch a good portion of the songs. She needed singing lessons and a lot of them. (Even those may not have helped.) And there were her parents praising her and encouraging her to sing song after inappropriate song. I wanted to strangle someone.

Mom said to me, “Why don’t you go up and sing?”

Me: “I probably wouldn’t sound any better than that girl right now, especially pop music. I won’t put anyone through that.”

You may think I’m mean. Maybe I am. I didn’t say a word to the family, as tempted as I was to encourage them to find her a voice teacher. It was obvious that’s what the child wants to do. That’s fine, but give her the tools to do it.

When I taught music, I encouraged every child to sing and enjoy it regardless of their talent. I’ve always thought that as long as someone isn’t trying to make a living at it, I don’t care that much how good it sounds. I just want them to enjoy themselves. Apparently, that is not true. If someone gets up on stage, inflicts their awful voice on me, thinks they belong on stage, and sings song after painful song, I can’t abide it. If it’s just one and they are obviously out with friends for some fun, I might groan, but it’s okay. They know their abilities and have no illusions. It’s the ones who think they should, but shouldn’t.

All of us have talents. They are not necessarily the talents we want, though. Then, again, perhaps if the girl had a voice teacher like my friend Joysee, she’d learn to really sing.

Talent does not automatically mean success either. It is not always the most talented that make it.

But there is no question that cute does not equal talent.